ANZ launches digital assistant that visitors to its website can speak to if they have basic banking questions

People who have basic banking questions will from today to be able to put these to a “digital assistant” on ANZ’s website.

ANZ is enabling people with cameras and microphones on their computers, mobile phones or tablets to speak to “Jamie”, which has been programmed to answer questions on the 30 most frequently searched topics on the Help section of ANZ’s website.

Instead of ringing a call centre, visiting a branch, or searching ANZ’s website, people can ask Jamie questions, much like they would using Siri on an Apple device, or Google Assistant on an Android one.

ANZ NZ’s head of digital and transformation, Liz Maguire, explains Jamie can answer, ‘How do I…?’ questions, not ‘Should I…?’ questions.

For example, ‘How do I… open a banking account, send money overseas, get a credit card, retrieve a lost customer number?’ and so on.

Because Jamie doesn’t provide financial advice, she can’t answer questions that require specific customer information.

ANZ acknowledges it is still trialling Jamie; the plan being to broaden the suite of topics she can provide assistance on in the future.

ANZ will keep all the transcripts of conversations Jamie has, so it can get a sense of the sorts of questions Jamie can’t answer, and enhance the way she’s programmed accordingly.

Maguire assures that while people need to turn on both their camera and microphone to talk to Jamie, the transcripts ANZ collects won’t be identifiable by customer.

Jamie has a digital human face and persona. Over time, ANZ might enable people to choose what they want Jamie to look like and what language she speaks.   

The New Zealand artificial intelligence company, Soul Machine, has taken care of the tech behind Jamie. It has used a system that models the human brain to try to give Jamie human-like personality.

It has even gone so far as to programming Jamie to answer non-banking related questions like, ‘What movies do you like? What do you like doing? Do you like rugby? And Are you smart?’

The aim is to ensure interactions with Jamie are conversational.

Maguire also hopes Jamie appeals to those who aren’t as comfortable using ANZ’s other digital channels.

ANZ is the first bank in New Zealand to make a digital assistant available to the public.

Jamie can be accessed from https://help.anz.co.nz.

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12 Comments

Does she have a Pony Tail?

More importantly can she understand the Matamata mangled diction?

Did you just misassume his gender?

I don't like the way this article genders Jamie.

Pretty "tone deaf" tbh.

Why do they bother with this crap when they know perfectly well that 90% of humans find this Uncanny Valley stuff creepy as hell and do not want to engage with it?

And this needs access to your camera for what reason exactly?

The solution likely does speech-to-text (probably via MS Azure text to speech API or similar Google or AWS equivalents) then searches a small database of questions and when one is matched it provides a pre-programmed answer. Bit disingenuous and superficial to compare to Siri/Alexa/GA - can't imagine there's actually any AI smarts in there really.

If I had to speculate, I'd suggest that it probably uses the camera to takes a picture of you and store that on your account for some reason. To which I'd ask, why? and further - privacy issue much? Will have to take a look at the T&Cs when I get the chance.

Can't imagine they're storing the video of the conversation, given that they're only storing the transcript (text) of the interaction - probably due to storage costs.

Still, they'll probably use it to justify axing a bunch of call center jobs citing AI... despite there being no AI in this use case at all. Would suggest people would still prefer to talk to a human, but increasingly for major corps/banks - that's considered too expensive.

Exactly Poly. They want access to your camera, but why? And they are going to collect transcripts but not going to store those as identifiable. Odd.
At this time the banks are keen to close branches, saying most money now flows on the internet. True enough but it's the wrong measure and they know it. The right measure is going to the bank and seeing the queues which are long long long. When on a rare occasion I go to the branch it's for something complex, and the interaction might take 15 or 30 minutes. Staff come free very slowly. Same for everybody else in the queue, so it's both long long long and slow slow slow.
But remember us suckers are there to pay them money and do still everything ourselves. It's our place.

Hi Jamie, I would like to withdrawal all my savings.
> I heard you say "I want a haircut" is this correct?
No I want my money Jamie.
> Haircut commencing...Please place your pony tail in the deposit hole.

The only way you deal with bankers, who are actually controlling your money, not thiers. Is to meet them in person.

Humanoid Jamie is a non union member, diligently follows instructions, never strikes over pay and conditions and spreads just enough fear amongst ANZ Call Centre humans, so they do the same.

File under "We're making more money than we know what to do with". No one asked for this and one can imagine dealing with this smiling, friendly computer will be akin to dealing with a particularly infuriating automated phone system. But hey, at least we're not talking about the fact ANZ just paid an $18m fine for criminal cartel offences.